Workplace coronavirus outbreaks disproportionately affecting nonwhite workers: CDC

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in workplaces are disproportionately impacting Hispanic and Latino workers, especially those employed in the manufacturing, wholesale trade and construction industries, according to an analysis released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The analysis, which focused on COVID-19 outbreaks in Utah workplaces between March and June, found COVID-19 outbreaks tied to workplaces in 15 industries. 

Of the 277 COVID-19 outbreaks reported to the state in that time period, 210 occurred in workplaces. 

About half of those outbreaks occurred in just three sectors, manufacturing, construction and wholesale trade, which are disproportionately represented by Hispanic workers.

Hispanic, Latino and nonwhite workers accounted for 73 percent of cases, despite representing 24 percent of workers in the 15 affected industries.

“Systemic social inequities have resulted in the overrepresentation of Hispanic and nonwhite workers in frontline occupations where exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, might be higher,” the authors of the report wrote. 

Hispanic and nonwhite workers also have less flexible work schedules, fewer telework options, and may not include paid sick leave, compared with white workers, the authors wrote. 

Because of the disproportionate impact on Hispanic and Latino workers, prevention and mitigation strategies are applied “equitably and effectively,” the authors wrote.

The analysis lines up with other studies that have been released on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. 

According to the CDC, Black and Hispanic or Latino people are 2.6 to 2.8 times more likely to get COVID-19 than white people. 

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